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30 in 30: Grasshopper Manufacture

A house of computers, creatives and crazies

While the name Grasshopper Manufacture may have only entered the mainstream consciousness recently - in large part thanks to the exploits of anime-obsessed, wrestling-loving perv Travis Touchdown - describing the Tokyo based developer as 'prolific' would be more than apt.

Although many of its games have been confined to the void of obscurity that is Japanese anime and manga licensed games, the quirky studio has released more than a few stellar titles based on its own brain sparks.

Before making its breakthrough the studio developed Michigan: Report From Hell, Flower, Sun and Rain, The Silver Case and a couple of Shining Soul games. Since they all debuted to absolutely no fanfare we wouldn't be surprised if this is the first time you're hearing about them.

The spotlight of celebrity first landed on Grasshopper Manufacture when it garnered mainstream attention for the GameCube title Killer 7, an on-rails third-person shooter, adventure hybrid that was mental in every sense of the word. Killer 7 eventually made the jump to the PlayStation 2 courtesy of Capcom's finest port-meisters.

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The studio's first high-profile project to be released since Killer 7 was No More Heroes, an unapologetically puerile Wii title that served as a beacon of hope for longtime Nintendo fans sat twiddling their thumbs as developers and publishers built a fort of casual games and shovelware around them.

Since then Grasshopper has gone on to produce a sequel to No More Heroes, subtitled 'Desperate Struggle', as well as criminally underappreciated, knob gag laden shooter Shadows of the Damned.

Grasshopper Manufacture is a studio driven by passion above all else, it operates using an extremely risky business model that makes up for the financial losses of its passion projects by developing safe games based on popular Japanese licenses.

It's a daring - and frankly, reckless - strategy but few of its fans will complain. Without Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked and Blood+: One Night Kiss we wouldn't have No More Heroes 2, Shadow of the Damned or Fatal Frame IV. Even if we did have to wait a number of years in between each.

OVERVIEW

Founded: 1998
Location: Suginami, Tokyo, Japan
Killer quote: Suda: "There are so many big games and big titles, but most of them are copycat... these games are important, but it's really hard to find a [different kind of] game" Suda said. "...I really hate doing things that other people do."

KEY PEOPLE
Goichi Suda
At some point during the course of playing a Suda game most sane people will inevitable ask themselves 'how did he come up with this stuff?'. A quick glance at his colorful history provides a look at the gears powering the peculiar mind of the infamous Japanese designer.

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Before finding fame in the world of video game development Suda, more commonly known as Suda51, worked as an undertaker, spending most of the early 90s passively sniffing essence of rotting corpse before yacking up. Eventually Suda reached breaking point and called it quits.

His encyclopedic knowledge of pro wrestling secured him a job at Human Entertainment, where he was put to work on Super Fire Pro Wrestling 3 Final Bout and its sequel Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special as a scenario writer.

Ever the eccentric Suda made a name for himself by scribing an unexpectedly grim tale for Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special that saw the lead superstar battle through depression and watch his trainer killed before him before he eventually topped himself having found no comfort in becoming world champion. Eat your heart out Darren Aronofsky.

He left Human Entertainment in 1998 and founded Grasshopper Manufacture, a development studio emboldened by an immutable 'punk' spirit. Over its lifetime the studio has adopted a number of mottos including 'Punk's Not Dead', 'Crash & Build' and 'Let's Punk'.

If his interests and influences are any indication Suda is a Western connoisseur living it large in a Japanese man's body. His loves include the writings of German author Franz Kafka, Eric Chahi's cinematic platformer Out of this World, lucha libre wrestling and English alternative rock band The Smiths. Needless to say the influence of his tastes are well represented in his many outrageous creations.

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